To advance the transition towards sustainable and regenerative agriculture it is crucial to increase adoption of more environmentally friendly agricultural practices. As part of the Rainforest Alliance’s commitment to gradually move towards crop-specific approaches by harmonizing science-based and field-based approaches, we are presenting changes to Annex S7: Pesticides Management.
These changes have been made after consultations with different stakeholders, and with the input of experts and people very close to the field realities and contexts, and we would like to thank participants for their feedback.
The changes affect two different areas of the Annex:
- The prohibited list and the risk mitigation list
- Aerial application
An overview of the changes and what they mean can be seen here below. For more information or questions, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Changes to the prohibited list and risk mitigation list
The Prohibited List contains pesticides that are prohibited from use because they are considered to pose great human health and environmental risks, or because they are widely banned or no longer produced. These substances must not be used in farms where Rainforest Alliance Certified crops are grown.
The use of Risk Mitigation Pesticides is discouraged, but not forbidden. These pesticides should only be applied when there is an Integrated Pest Management strategy and the appropriate risk mitigation measures to protect people and the environment are implemented in full.
The updates in the pesticides lists in Annex S7: Pesticide Management were done following changes in categorization of specific substances because they meet (or no longer meet) criteria according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) to be classified as Highly Hazardous pesticides.
Adaptations were made for four substances in the Prohibited List and Risk Mitigation List.
- The herbicide Flumioxazim was moved from the Prohibited List to the Risk Mitigation List. For farmers, this means the substance can be used if all related mitigation measures are taken, as stated in Annex 7.
- The insecticide Thiacloprid and the fungicides Mancozeb and Dimetomorph have all been added to the Prohibited List, as they have been reclassified according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) under Criterion 4, reproductive toxicity 1b.
Changes to crop production methods cannot be made overnight, so we understand that phasing out these substances will require additional time. This is why we have established a phase-out period of one year, from June 30, 2021 – June 30, 2022.
In very specific cases, there is a procedure for requesting Exceptional Use exceptions. Please read more on our Exceptional Use Policy page, and note that application for an exemption does not mean the substance may necessarily be used.
Aerial application and the use of drones
The subject of aerial application is in constant evolution. This is why, when Annex S7 first appeared we indicated that we would be updating the annex in the near future. Our research, along with a stakeholder consultation, has led to further optimization on the content of the annex specifically for aerial application and drones.
The main adaptations to the annex promote more clarity and give more room to implement vegetative coverage of drainage canals, and more room to work with drones for aerial application. The following is a list of changes:
Clarification on roads
To protect workers and passers-by, ensuring that they are not exposed to sprays, Annex S7 requires warning mechanism to notify and protect people when pesticides are being applied. To ensure that the measures are effective, it is important to clarify the definition of what is a road, and what the differences can be between public roads and farm roads. For the former, the standard requires non-application zones, while the latter need to be closed completely when aerial application of pesticides is going on. And now, it has been clarified that for roads in the farm area where there are occasional passers-by, either method can be chosen.
Water sources and water flora and fauna can be at risk when using pesticides. That is why the Standard requires drainage canals to be covered by vegetation to protect surface water from direct spraying. However, it was pointed out during our consultations that for some farms the timeline and costs for implementation of the requirements may be difficult to meet. We understand the challenges and are stretching the period for implementing the Standard to three years. Also, we require that drainage canals are covered as much as possible when they are too wide to fully cover them with vegetation.
The Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard seeks to support innovations that lead to more sustainability in the production of our certified crops. In the case of pesticides, one area of innovation has been aerial application using drones. The benefit of using this new technology is that it can give lower spray drift than airplane-based application, and that it can help reduce the health risks for the people who do manual spraying while being more effective because it is done from above.
We have updated Annex S7 to better reflect the actual realities on drone use. And we recognize that the use of drones for pesticide application and legal regulation are developing fast, so we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust requirements if needed.
For example, we have removed the maximum weight requirements for drones, as long as they comply with applicable legislation, and we have eliminated the requirement that a substance must be explicitly marked to be used for drone application. In line with current legislation on drone use for aerial application, we now require flight hours of experience, rather than months and years. Drone pilots have to be licensed.
Related to flight, it is now allowed to have more than one drone in flight at the same time, and one pilot can operate up to three drones. Further, it is no longer necessary for the pilot to keep the drone in their line of sight.
Finally, we reduced the agrochemical non-application zones for drone application to match those of ground application and have given a possibility to further reduce the zone if more precise application can be shown.
Keeping an eye on developments
For all of these topics, we continue to monitor the situation on the ground and the legal requirements and changes, to ensure that the requirements in the Standard actively contribute to improved practices. You can refer to this page to learn more about any updates or changes in the future.
For more information or questions, please send an email to email@example.com